How Last Season’s Deadline Changes Sweeney’s Approach?​

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( Photo credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

As most Bruins fans know, the deadline for NHL season is always an interesting time for the black and gold. Many players have been traded for and never panned out like Andrej Meszároš or the infamous Zach Rinaldo, both of which were quick experiments that failed to deliver any results. As more trade deadlines came and went, Bruins fans started to wonder if there was a repeated pattern of trading for non-impact level players as well as swinging and missing out on some bigger names they have been linked to.

During the 2019 season, however, that all changed. During the week of the trade deadline at the end of February, the Bruins traded prospect Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle, a player who hasn’t really lived up to his potential in Minnesota. Many Bruins fans at the time questioned the move as they seemed to surround themselves in the hype that was Ryan Donato. They ultimately in the short term were proven right as Donato would go on a mini point streak with the Wild and Charlie Coyle looked invisible on the ice.

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Then on deadline day, the Bruins acquired Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils for a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft. Many Bruins fans were puzzled with this one as many saw that JoJo (Johansson’s nickname) was injury prone and also was on the receiving end of a controversial hit involving Brad Marchand earlier in the season that sidelined him for a while. After playing a couple games with the Bruins, JoJo got hurt and was sidelined again for a bit which left fans wondering was giving up two draft picks at the time worth it for what possibly was going to be a rental?

As the Bruins punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs, they were eager to go on a deep run with this core and believed they had the depth to do it. All of a sudden, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson were a dynamic duo helping the Bruins redefine their offensive attack with a now solid third line! As the playoffs rolled along, the two additions quickly became fan favorites as they contributed to most of the team’s scoring output when the top line had a bad night or a bad shift. Head coach Bruce Cassidy finally had multiple lines up and down the roster that he could roll out and go on a deep run with and that’s exactly what the Bruins did.

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While the Bruins didn’t capture the ultimate prize at the end, the trades of Coyle and Johansson provided a much-needed jolt of offense that was critical to reaching game seven of the Stanley Cup final. Knowing how well their trades worked and how far the Bruins went general manager, Don Sweeney has to be feeling pretty good knowing he traded for a rental that brought them within sixty minutes of a title and a nice depth piece in Coyle who is versatile and still under contract for the 2019-2020 season. Sweeney always has the team’s best interest in mind and would be willing to stand pat or make trades as needed to improve the lineup. Knowing Sweeney struck gold at this past trade deadline as well as being awarded GM of the year, expect Sweeney to enter next season’s trade deadline with a different attitude which maybe could land the next big thing in Boston, who knows?

Report: Johansson Not In Talks With Bruins Ahead Of Free Agency

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

At the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney was optimistic that he would come to terms with Marcus Johansson and his representation on a deal. Up until late last week, the Bruins were still in the mix along with a handful of other teams. However, it is now being reported by Darren Dreger of TSN that 10 or more teams are in contact with the 28-year-old forward from Sweden and the Bruins are not one of those teams.

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Johansson will become an unrestricted free agent on July first as the NHL Free Agency frenzy begins after the Bruins acquired Johansson from the New Jersey Devils on trade deadline day for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick.

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He will likely get a raise on his $4.6 million that he received last season and with the Bruins cap situation they just simply cannot afford to pay Johansson. Johansson praised the city of Boston and the Bruins organization and expressed interest in re-signing but will likely be wearing another sweater in the 2019-2020 season.

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His tenure with Boston got off to a rough start. On March 5, 2019, Johansson was injured in just his fourth game with the Bruins. He was hospitalized after a collision with Carolina Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland and later diagnosed with a lung contusion. He went on to miss 10 games in March for the Bruins after the injury.

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During his brief time in Boston, Johansson put up one goal and two assists in 10 regular season games played. But, his impact was really felt in the postseason. Johansson quickly built chemistry with B’s forward Charlie Coyle on the third line for Bruce Cassidy. In 22 playoff games, Johansson scored four goals to go along with seven helpers and 11 points and scored some huge goals for Boston like his insurance marker in the first period of game seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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He also connected with Charlie Coyle with incredible passes on the tying and overtime game-winning goals in game one of the second round series against Columbus. The line of Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson were often the Bruins most effective line during the long Stanley Cup run. With the “perfection-line” and the David Krejci line often struggling to find the back of the net, the Johansson line was productive in their forecheck and goal-scoring and he will definitely be missed by the Bruins next season.

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As a result, Don Sweeney’s search for wingers continues heading into Free Agency on Monday and the rest of the offseason. Sweeney will certainly be busy as the Bruins have a number of UFA’s and RFA’s that they will try to come to terms with before the start of next season.

Sweeney has extending qualifying offers to restricted free agents Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson as well as extending offers to pending unrestricted free agent Noel Acciari and a 2-year extension for defenseman Steven Kampfer.

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July first is always an interesting and exciting day in the NHL so follow along with our Black ‘N Gold Hockey team for all the latest free agency news.

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

Bruins’ Sweeney Named GM Of The Year

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Photo Courtesy Of The Boston Herald

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney won General Manager of the Year on Wednesday night in Las Vegas during the NHL Awards ceremony. Sweeney beat out Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell and Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong for the honor, becoming the first Bruin to win the award since its inception in 2010. Since Sweeney took over as the General Manager in 2015, the B’s have compiled a record of 143-75-28 which ranks third in wins and points in the entire league over that span. Sweeney has been a part of the Bruins front office since 2006.

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Sweeney oversaw the construction of a squad that finished in second place in the Eastern Conference and tied for second in the entire league in 2018-19. The Bruins compiled a record of 49-24-9 this past season and advanced to the Conference Final for the eight time since the round was introduced in 1982. The Bruins also clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in the last decade and first since 2013. Despite the Bruins losing over 250 man games this season due to injury, Sweeney was able to make the right moves to keep the team near the top of the league standings almost all year.

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His trade deadline acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson proved to be two of his best moves as General Manager as both players were outstanding during the B’s long playoff run. Coyle totaled nine goals and seven assists for 16 points in the playoffs after posting just two goals and four assists for six points in 21 regular season games. Johansson posted just one goal and two assists for three points in ten games in the regular season and then exploded for four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 22 playoff games.

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Sweeney was incredibly thankful for the award and credited the Bruins organization, “I really believe this is an acknowledgement of the Boston Bruins organization,” he said. “I was very fortunate that Mr. Jacobs, Charlie, and Cam gave me this opportunity. And the incredible, devoted coaches and players, people I get to work with every day should share this as well.”

Sweeney also credited his twin boys, Jared and Tyler as inspirations for the award. “From the time they were born at one pound and six ounces,” he said, harkening back long ago to the anxious days of their birth. “But most importantly, to my beautiful wife, she has been the rock of our family. She has selflessly supported all of my career aspirations and I share this with her tonight as the special person she is.”

Sweeney’s work this season was incredibly solid and while he did make a few moves that were head scratching to some people, those moves ultimately worked out. The signings of Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom last July turned out to be some of his better free agent signings in recent years. The addition of Jaroslav Halak was very helpful as he was able to play effectively enough to allow Tuukka Rask to stay fresh for the long playoff run. The additions of college free agents Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman proved to be very good moves especially in the playoffs as the two of them played very significant roles. We will see this offseason if Sweeney can pull off any more shrewd moves to get this team to bring some hardware back to Boston next June.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 4: Boston at St. Louis: 6/3/19

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(Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: St. Louis Blues

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Acciari

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

St Louis’s Lineup

Forwards

Schwartz – Schenn – Tarasenko

Sanford – O’Reilly – Perron

Blais – Bozak – Maroon

Barbashev – Sundqvist – Steen

Defense

Edmundson – Pietrangelo

Bouwmeester –  Parayko

Dunn –  Gunnarsson

Goalies

Binnington

Allen

First Period

The goal scoring started really early, 43 seconds in off of a wraparound from Ryan O’Reilly. Tuukka Rask made the initial save on a point shot from Vince Dunn, but O’Reilly buried the quick wraparound very shortly after. The Bruins were forced to battle some early momentum from St. Louis from the get-go. Just what the Blues wanted.

The Blues continued to push the pace after scoring the first goal, outshooting the Bruins 7-3 through the first 6:53 and outhitting them 11-5. After that, the Bruins made some headway in terms of creating offense, but struggled with finding puck luck.

That all changed when Charlie Coyle got on the board for the ninth time in the playoffs. Danton Heinen took a hit to make a play and Coyle’s chance initially came off of a Zdeno Chara shot, before potting his own rebound. Chara’s assist was his fourth. It was 1-1 with 6:46 to go, goals in three straight games for Coyle.

Vladimir Tarasenko got lost in coverage and scored to take back the lead for the Blues with 13:14 left in the period. Tarasenko is the last person on the Blues you want to have a golden opportunity to score.

The Blues controlled play for much of the period, and also laid some pretty solid hits, which was a big reason as to why they were succeeding. They were the better team in the first period. Two big advantages for St. Louis in the first came in shots at 13-9 and in hits at 24-16.

Score: 2-1 St. Louis

Second Period

Things were fairly standard early until Chara had a Brayden Schenn shot deflect up and off of his face, bloodying the Bruins captain and forcing him to get repairs.

The first penalty of the game came 5:47 into the period when Coyle high-sticked Carl Gunnarsson. The Bruins killed off the penalty without one of their main penalty killers in Chara.

A Bruins power play came shortly after thanks to a delay of game penalty on Colton Parayko. The Bruins had a massive opportunity to tie the game, but they did not convert and the Blues held their one-goal lead.

Connor Clifton went to the box for an illegal check to the head of Tarasenko after a lengthy stint of offensive zone time for St. Louis. But who else but Brandon Carlo to tie the game with a shorthanded goal with 5:41 left? Carlo’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal was assisted. Patrice Bergeron (8) and Brad Marchand (13) has the assists. The goal made Carlo the 20th Bruin to score a playoff goal this season. That’s a franchise record.

It was not a perfect period for the Bruins, but Carlo’s late shorthanded goal was massive. The Bruins took the hit advantage this time, 13-8, but the Blues held the shot advantage, 12-10. After two, shots were 25-19, hits were 32-29, both in favor of the Blues. Chara did not return to game action after taking a puck up high. The Bruins needed to feed off of the energy from the Carlo goal into the third period.

Score: 2-2

Third Period

Good news for the Bruins came in the form of Zdeno Chara’s return, with a fishbowl on his helmet. Bad news came in the form of a Danton Heinen tripping penalty just 2:08 into the period. Rask made a series of huge saves on the penalty kill, helping the Bruins kill it off. Through four and a half minutes and after the Heinen penalty was killed, the Bruins held a 13-3 advantage in blocked shots.

Coyle drew a high sticking penalty with 13:18 remaining to give the Bruins their second power play of the game. Up to this point, Chara remained on the bench for the whole period. Not a whole lot of cohesiveness came on the power play, and as a result, the Bruins failed to score.

Oskar Sundqvist has certainly made some noise in different ways in this series. That’s one way to put it. David Backes decided to flatten him.

O’Reilly added to his monster performance in this game, and he got rewarded for it when he quickly buried a rebound. Poor coverage in front of the net did not help Rask after a tough shot to contain up high and O’Reilly found an open spot in the chaos. Not too long after, Rask made a big stop on Patrick Maroon on a 2-on-1. St. Louis remained ahead by a goal with 8:44 to go. Shots to this point in the period were 9-3 in favor of St. Louis.

Things were pretty bad for the Bruins for the remainder of the third. Not a lot of cohesiveness and a bad turnover by Clifton that led to Schenn’s empty-net goal. The Schenn goal came with 1:29, 4-2 St. Louis. With 25.7 seconds remaining, Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug went off following a scrum. Another scrum happened at the buzzer. Chara went the whole third period without a shift, he was there to rally his troops.

Next up is game five in Boston on Thursday at 8 PM ET. The shots were 13-4 in favor of St. Louis and the hits were even at 12. ST. Louis clawed their way back into the series with force. A pivotal game five awaits.

Final Score: 4-2 St. Louis

Three Hometown Heroes Looking To Etch Permanent Place In Bruins History

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Columbus Blue Jackets at Boston Bruins

Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

By Carrie Salls | Look for me on Twitter @nittgrl73

If the Bruins win the Stanley Cup this year, Matt Grzelcyk, Chris Wagner and Charlie Coyle will be the first Massachusetts-born Bruins to have their names inscribed on the coveted hardware since Myles Lane did so in 1929.

Regardless of the outcome of this year’s Cup quest, the three current hometown heroes appear to have already cemented their spots in Boston sports lore. Charlestown, Mass.-native Grzelcyk has been a Bruin the longest of the three, having been drafted by Boston. Wagner, dubbed by teammates as “the Mayor of Walpole,” was signed by the Bruins as a free agent in the summer of 2018, and E. Weymouth’s Coyle was acquired just before the trade deadline in February in a deal that sent Bruins prospect, and another Boston native, Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild.

During the regular season, Wagner thrilled fans with his hard-nosed, tough play on a fourth-line that has come up big for the Bs time and again throughout the 2018-2019 campaign. He was rewarded for his efforts when the fans voted him as the recipient of the 7th Player Award at the end of the season.

Wagner was forced to leave game-three of the Eastern Conference Finals after suffering an apparent arm injury on a pivotal shot-block. He has yet to appear in a Cup finals game. His spot has been occupied by Noel Acciari, a native of Johnston, R.I.

During Wednesday’s game, Grzelcyk was hit from behind when retrieving a puck, sending his head into the boards, and he had to be helped off the ice by teammates. Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed Thursday that Grzelcyk has been placed in concussion protocol and is officially listed as day-to-day.

Grzelcyk has been lauded by fans and the coaching staff for his toughness and strong performance throughout the playoff run. His best game was highlighted by two goals scored in a Mother’s Day matinee during the ECF.

Coyle has made his presence known on the ice since the playoffs began, as well. His primary contribution has come with healthy points production throughout the post-season.

Although more National Hockey League players still hale from Canada than any other country on the planet, statistics provided by quanthockey.com show that America is closing the nationality gap long-dominated by its neighbor to the north. A total of 435 active players on NHL rosters are Canadian, according to those statistics, followed by 286 Americans.

The Boston Bruins’ current roster is no exception to that trend, as 14 active players are Americans. In fact, only four members of the current Bruins squad are Canadian-born.

In addition, five members of the so-called “Black Aces,” a small group of prospects and players who spent the majority of the season playing for the team’s AHL affiliate in Providence and have been practicing with the NHL club during the deep playoff run, also were born in the United States. Among the Black Aces, Paul Carey, Trent Frederic, Lee Stempniak, Kyle Keyser, and Zane McIntyre were born in the United States.

In addition to Grzelcyk, Wagner, Coyle, and Acciari, U.S.-born Bruins who have appeared in 2019 playoff games include David Backes, Karson Kuhlman, Sean Kuraly, Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, Steven Kampfer, Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy and John Moore. Injured defenseman Kevan Miller, who played college hockey at the University of Vermont, is also American.

Miller and Acciari are not the only current Bruins to have played college hockey in New England. Coyle, Grzelcyk, and McAvoy all attended Boston University. Bruins assistant coaches Jay Pandolfo, and Joe Sacco also played at BU.

Marcus Johansson Playing Himself Into New Contract With Bruins

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(Photo Courtesy of Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

As the trade deadline approached in February, rumors swirled about what the Boston Bruins were going to do. Many people believed that the Bs needed a top-six forward to play on the second line with DeBrusk and Krejci. Right, when it looked like the Bruins were not going to make a trade before the deadline, the news came out minutes before the deadline that a deal had been made. That trade was with the New Jersey Devils. Boston traded their 2019 second-round pick, and a 2020 fourth-round pick for Marcus Johansson and the Devils would retain 40 percent of his remaining salary.

Initial thoughts were that this was a pretty good depth trade and that Johansson was a player that could play on any wing. Then just four games into the Sweden native’s tenure in Boston, he took a crushing hit against Carolina. Jojo, as his teammates call him, would suffer a bruised lung and be out for a couple weeks. This had fans all over thinking “oh no, not again” because this would be the second season in a row in which a deadline acquisition would get hurt early into their tenure in black and gold. Three weeks later Johansson would return to the Bruins lineup and play in the teams remaining six games of the regular season.

The final three games of the regular season were very good for Johansson. He finally seemed to gel with his new team, and he would go to score a goal and dish out an assist in those three games. Then came the playoffs, and the Bruins would play Toronto in the first round. His first four games played in the playoffs were forgettable, and he would even sit out two of the first six games of the series. Then it was like a switch went off. The former New Jersey Devil would start gaining confidence and gelled really well with fellow mid-season acquisition Charlie Coyle.  Johansson would go on to score a goal in game seven against Toronto, and since then the flood gates opened up.

The Bruins third line of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen has been an x-factor for the Bruins this playoff run. The chemistry that Coyle and Johansson have on the ice is mesmerizing to watch, and every time Johansson touches the puck it seems like he has a chance to do something special. Including that goal in game seven, in his last 13 playoff games, Johansson has netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points. He is driving play and has been one of the best players on the ice for the Bruins these playoffs. Now, Johansson’s play this run to the Stanley Cup Final has brought up an interesting question. Do the Bruins re-sign him?

I think the Boston Bruins have to absolutely look at bringing Marcus Johansson back next season with one caveat. The price has to be right. The Bruins have around 14.3 million dollars in salary cap space going into this off-season. This seems like a big number, but let’s dig into that a little further. At the end of this season, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are both restricted free agents, and you have to absolutely keep both of those players. That could take up most of your cap space depending on whether or not McAvoy takes a smaller “bridge” contract pushing off his big payday for a few years. On top of that, after next season Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton are all restricted free agents as well. So, it may take some financial creativity to keep Johansson.

Now, what would a new contract for Johansson look like? I believe if you can get him to sign a one or two year contract in the neighborhood of 2.8-3.15 million dollars a year, then you have to absolutely sign him. Anything beyond that would probably be too detrimental to the salary cap and hurt your chances of keeping those core restricted free agents. One thing I do know for sure is that I hope Johansson keeps up his play the rest of this Stanley Cup run. He has been a lot of fun to watch, and it would be great to see his play rewarded with hoisting the Stanley Cup here in June. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. Enjoy the rest of the Stanley Cup Final, and GO, Bs, GO!

Heinen Shinin’ For Bruins Through Playoffs

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( Photo Credit: Kim Klement/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cameron McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

If you were to poll the entirety of those who share a passion for Bruins fandom about which current Bruin they would choose as their favorite, some names would almost certainly stand out above the rest. As the Bruins are a notably deep team who owe much of their success to their admirable implementation and execution of the “next man up” (I just made that up, definitely not an overused cliché) mentality and system, there would likely be a few mentions of depth forwards and defensemen.

But it is likely that names like Bergeron, Rask, Chara, and Marchand would be offered as an answer to this childish hypothetical more so than the rest. Make no mistake, this should absolutely be the case.

However, when it comes to impactful players on the Boston roster who have embraced their role and outperformed their expectations, it would be tough to argue that many (or any) have surpassed Danton Heinen when it comes to consistency and efficiency.

Offensive Potential

Heinen, throughout the course of the regular season, demonstrated his value (shoutout to Dennis Reynolds) in a variety of ways. His 34 regular season points made him the sixth-highest scoring Bruins forward, and solidified even further his role as a forward with middle-six capabilities. However, as a stalwart on an injury-ridden Bruins’ roster throughout the season, the absence of David Pastrnak saw not only Heinen’s status on the lineup elevated to the first line but saw his performance elevated as well. In his time playing with Bergeron and Marchand during the regular season, Danton Heinen scored at nearly a point-per-game pace and allowed the Bruins to maintain their offensive effectiveness despite the absence of one of their most prolific scorers.

While most might offer that just about anyone would be successful offensively while playing with Bergeron and Marchand, the following will bring to light just how valuable Heinen has been in other ways.

Versatility

Throughout the regular season, Heinen saw time playing with each of Boston’s top three lines. In fact, he was rumored to have singlehandedly kept Boston-area LIDS stores in business because of the many hats he wore throughout the season (you’re welcome for that one).

As a younger player, it would have been reasonable to think that the consistent movement throughout the lineup might impact Heinen’s effectiveness on the ice and hinder his abilities to string together consistent performances. However, in the face of the instability of the Bruins’ forward units (for the better part of the season), Heinen managed to, on top of his respectable offensive production, amass the third-highest +/- rating among Boston forwards, behind just Bergeron and Marchand.

While some might predictably point to +/- like an outdated statistic, being included in the same category as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron is nothing to write off. Even more so, the fact that Heinen put together such an impressive performance over the course of the entire season proves that the result was no fluke. Even amidst a variety of lineup moves that hindered his ability to get comfortable with certain linemates for extended periods of time, Heinen proved his commitment to a balanced style of production and defensive commitment.

Playoff Improvements

The NHL Playoffs are a grueling time. While the regular season is longer, the intensity of postseason competition is unmatched, not just in hockey, but in the entire realm of professional sports. Simply put, the playoffs create a unique demand for staying healthy, while also producing and playing consistent hockey during situations of the highest intensity.   Younger players with relatively less experience with such big moments might often fall victim to the effects of “the moment.” Danton Heinen appears to have received his “the moment” vaccination, and as such, is immune to its harmful effects that other younger players find themselves struggling with. Heinen has not only maintained his effectiveness but has improved in important areas of the game.

Heinen’s 34 regular season points saw him produce at a .44 points/game clip. In the playoffs, Heinen’s 7 points through 17 games have him producing at .41 points/game. When considering the magnitude of some of his points, and the skill/determination required to create them, this stat becomes all the more impressive. Most notably among Heinen’s playoff production is his overtime assist in Game 1 of the second round against Columbus. Did someone order a master class in body control, awareness, vision, and touch?

Heinen has not been able to maintain his status as the Bruins forward with the third-highest +/- rating in the playoffs. Instead, he now sits 1st (Pronounced “FIRST”) among Bruins forwards with a +10 rating in just 17 games. This comes despite Heinen averaging just 13:33 in ice-time throughout the playoffs, which sits among the lowest of Bruins forwards. Heinen’s utility in his shortened allotment of ice-time speaks to how effective he has been when he has graced the ice.

Moving Forward

Heinen has shown that his game is much more mature than he will get credit for. While he is a far cry from being compared to the likes of Patrice Bergeron, his defensive commitment coupled with his respectable offensive capabilities make him incredibly valuable to a Bruins team that has benefitted from enhanced depth throughout the playoffs.

Heinen has gelled with Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson in his time on their unit, and I would expect to see that chemistry continue to grow and positively affect the outcomes of Boston’s upcoming games.

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( Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/ AP )

And thus ends my ode to Danton “Grindin’ and Shinin,’ Third Linin’” Heinen.

From Non-Factor to X-Factor: Bruins Third Line Coming Up Huge In Playoffs

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(Photo Courtesy of John Tlumacki / Boston Globe Staff)

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

The Boston Bruins find themselves in the middle of a long playoff run, and while there are many different factors that have led to this, one of the biggest x-factors that fueled this run is the play of the third line, and the players that make up that third-line. Going into the season, if someone told you the Bruins would make it at least to the Eastern Conference Final, and that third-line was going to be a big part of that, you would probably think that person was nuts, but here we are. Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen have played great hockey over the last few weeks, and they’ve really shown that they can hold the secondary scoring mantle. Secondary scoring was also a big problem for the boys in black and gold with many local and national media personalities telling us that while the first-line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is elite, the team needed more balance on all lines.

With that balance needed, and the younger internal options never fully emerging the Bruins turned to the trade market to fortify the third-line. The guy that Boston turned to was Charlie Coyle. They traded Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Coyle. Then a few days later, the Bs traded a second and fourth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Marcus Johansson. Now, Coyle looked strong, and the Bruins seemed to finally solve the third-line center position, but Johansson was initially tried out on the second-line. Then only a few games into his tenure with the spoked B he took a hard hit from Carolina Hurricanes’ winger Micheal Ferland, which bruised the New Jersey Devils’ lung. As a result, we never were able to fully see what Boston’s new additions could do.

Even after Johansson came back from injury, he still needed time to fully show what he could do. Heading into the playoffs, Charlie Coyle had fully stabilized the third-line center position, and Johansson was still working to find his niche on the team. Even after game one of the first round of the playoffs against Toronto, the Bruins sat the Sweden native for games two and three. Since then, however, both Coyle and Johansson have been a force to be reckoned with these playoffs. Conor Ryan of the Boston Sports Journal even pointed out that Johansson and Coyle combined in the playoffs have netted nine goals and dished out 12 assists for 21 total points, and they’ve generated 25 individual high-danger scoring chances. Individually, Charlie Coyle has netted six goals while dishing out six assists for 12 total points, Marcus Johansson has netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points, and the final member of the third-line Danton Heinen has netted two goals while dishing out five assists for seven total points.

To top all of that off, over the past five games that they’ve played together the three players have netted a combined four goals while dishing out a combined nine assists for 13 total points. To take it a step further, the 13 points in five games accounts for 21% of the points scored in those games. All five of those games have resulted in a Bruins victory.  Not only are these guys scoring, but they are also driving play when they are the ice which is one of the most important things, especially in the playoffs. A lot of fans were critical of Don Sweeney at the trade deadline stating that the trades getting Coyle and Johansson would not be enough to get past Tampa Bay and win a Stanley Cup. Luckily for Boston, Columbus took care of Tampa Bay for them, and their acquisitions are playing a large part in the Bruins being two wins away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

The Boston Bruins third-line has gone from a non-factor to an x-factor this long playoff run. They’ve become such a big strength that you have to consider re-signing Marcus Johansson in the off-season if the price is right. It seems like whenever he has the puck, he has a chance of making a big play. The play of the third line has been an absolute joy to watch, and Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson have become some of my favorite players to watch these playoffs. If Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson can keep up their high level of play, then the Bruins’ chances of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in June are very good.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of this playoff run. Feel free to leave questions or comments on my Twitter and Go, Bs, Go!

What The Bruins Need To Do To Get Back In This Series

Columbus Blue Jackets' Matt Duchene, top right, scores a goal against Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask, of Finland, during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Nationwide Arena.

(JAY LAPRETE / AP)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The Bruins have done a lot of what needs to be done to win a series. They’ve gotten really good goaltending from Tuukka Rask, they’ve gotten a lot of really important depth goals out of their bottom six, and overall, they’ve played pretty damn good defense. But clearly, they aren’t playing perfect hockey as they’re down 2-1 in the series. Here are a few important things the Bruins will need to do to come back in this series against Columbus.

Figure Out Bobrovsky

Captain obvious here but the Bruins need to find a way to get a couple past the Blue Jackets’ goalie. Sergei Bobrovsky has been incredible this entire playoff run, but his playoff struggles of the past can’t be forgotten. Even with his outstanding numbers this season (.937 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA) he has a measly .902 save % and a 3.08 GAA. If the Bruins can put up four or five on him in a game, then the nerves may start to kick in, and Bobrovsky could start to falter.

 

Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak, right, of the Czech Republic, controls the puck against Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. The Bruins won 6-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Fix the Powerplay

To say it has been bad would be an understatement. The Bruins are just 1/10 on the PP this series, and it seems that every time they get on the man advantage, it just kills their momentum. The first powerplay unit HAS to change. I think Marcus Johansson is incredible at gaining the zone which is very important to a powerplay, but he just isn’t the right guy to be in front of the net. I would rather see him on the second unit either in the bumper position (where Bergeron plays) or on the right side half-wall (where Marchand plays).

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It seems Jake Debrusk will move back up to the number one unit and take Johansson’s place, but I think a guy like David Backes, who looks to be entering the lineup next game, would be the best fit there. While age has been getting the better of him as of late, he still has a nose for the net and sees the puck really well. He’s got very good hand-eye coordination and could really be a nuisance for Bobrovsky and the Columbus defense to handle in front of the net.

 

Adam Glanzman / Getty Images

Have the First Line do… Something

Yikes. The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have one point this entire series, and that one point was a goal off of Pastrnak’s skate. The worst of the bunch has been the goal scorer Pastrnak. Maybe he’s playing through an injury, but everything, his skating, his shooting, his decision making, all of it has been off. Coach Cassidy tried to jump-start the struggling Pastrnak by putting him on the third line with the best two Bruins this series, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, and it just ruined what the two had going before Game Three. Towards the tail-end of Game Three, the Czechman was reunited with his former linemates and had a few solid shifts to end off the game. Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come.

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Brad Marchand should try to stick to scoring goals and not his old devilish ways, or we might not see Marchy too much more this series. Patrice Bergeron hasn’t been bad. He’s had a lot of quality scoring chances and has done a good job neutralizing the Blue Jacket’s top line, but just like the rest of his linemates, he just looks off. Bruce Cassidy will stick with his guns and keep the “perfection” line together going into Game Four, hopefully, this major slump can only last so long

Stop Giving the Puck Away

Plain and simple, way too many costly turnovers.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: EQSF Game 1: Columbus at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

After eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, the Boston Bruins are right back in action after a short, one-day break to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round Two of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blue Jackets are coming off of a four-game sweep of the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round matchup.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (4-3)

Away: Columbus Blue Jackets (4-0)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 5-1 in Game 7

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Defenceman John Moore is out of the lineup for tonight’s Game One with an upper-body injury and is considered to be day-to-day with the injury. Connor Clifton will enter the lineup in replace of Moore. In addition, forward Chris Wagner will come back into the forward core and Karson Kuhlman will be the scratch. Tuukka Rask is the starting goaltender for Boston.

First Period:

Less than a minute into round two and the Boston Bruins are bringing back the physical style of hockey that we saw in Game Two against the Maple Leafs. The fourth line of Boston, as well as Torey Krug, had some huge hits on the Blue Jackets early on and that could be a big storyline throughout this series.

About four minutes into the game, the intensity level rises just a bit. Blue Jackets d-man Scott Harrington sticks the knee out on Sean Kuraly as Kuraly enters the zone, getting called on a two-minute tripping minor in the process. Right after, Nordstrom gets into a scuffle with some opposing players, showing what kind of series this will be.

The Bruins thrive on the early power-play with some great chances, headlined by a highway robbery by Sergei Bobrovsky – a split save on a bouncing puck right in front of the net and it stays scoreless. With 43 seconds left, Boston gets caught with six players on the ice and the power-play becomes  4-on-4 play for too-many-men. Bobrovsky makes another huge stop on Charlie McAvoy as well. Fortunately, Columbus fails to get a shot on the man-advantage and we go back to 5-on-5.

The B’s forecheck has been great in the early portions of this game, but Charlie Coyle goes a bit too far, getting called on a hooking minor about halfway through the first period. Columbus has a chance on a full power-play session for the first time this series. Boston’s PK did a great job shutting down offensive chances in the neutral zone and the Blue Jackets cannot get anything going.

Continuing a great penalty-kill, Noel Acciari stands up strong on the blueline, picking up the puck off of a McAvoy poke check, turning around and heading on a 2-on-1 with Nordstrom. Instead of passing, Acciari rips one shorthanded underneath Bobrovsky’s blocker to put the Bruins up 1-0.

Brad Marchand makes a slick move to get around the defender, takes a shot that gets stopped by Bobrovsky, but the Bruins stay hard on the puck. At the other end, Cam Atkinson steals the puck off of Zdeno Chara in the Bruins defensive zone, then passes it to Ryan Dzingel in the slot. Tuukka Rask makes only his second save of the game with three minutes to go in the period on a solid chance.

Columbus closed out the first period with the best zone control they had all game, quite honestly the only time they had such pressure in the offensive zone, but the Bruins deal with the chances and not many shots end up reaching Rask. With that, Boston ends the period with a 1-0 lead. Columbus ties a franchise record for fewest shots on goal in the first period of a playoff game with four.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 14 CBJ: 4

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Acciari (1) SH Assists: McAvoy (3)

Second Period:

Just shy of three minutes into a slower-paced second period, former-Bruin Riley Nash trips up Matt Grzelcyk and Boston once again goes to the power-play. Early on, Columbus shows great improvement on the penalty-kill, but a small cycle play causes a Pastrnak one-timer that shatters his stick. The puck somehow gets to Marchand who has an open net but rings it off the crossbar and it goes up out of play. Blue Jackets kill off the penalty on Nash.

Not long after Nash leaves the box, David Krejci gets his stick on the skates of Nick Foligno at the end of his shift and the officials wave him to the penalty box. Columbus heads to the power-play for the third time already. Tuukka Rask has to make a couple solid saves – which he does so and Boston successfully makes their third kill of the night.

Midway through the game, the Blue Jackets have clearly found their game that was absent in the first frame. Already more shots in the second period than the opening period for Columbus and they have begun to start the cycle on a couple occasions. Boston forced to ice it a few times in the process.

With 5:30 remaining in the frame, Patrice Bergeron is called on a hooking call when he makes a play to shut down a David Savard chance on Rask. Yet again, Bruins off to the 5-on-4 penalty-kill tonight. Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson has a wide open net on a rebound but the bouncing puck goes over the blade of his stick and no shot comes off. Marchand gets a contested breakaway shorthanded but with the good defence by Bjorkstrand, he is unable to get the shot off. The chance is enough to kill off the penalty, though.

Brad Marchand, who has been all over the puck since hitting the crossbar, gets the puck on a short 2-on-1 with Pastrnak. Pastrnak gets interfered with by Zach Werenski and with around one minute left in the second, Boston goes to the power-play. Off of a terrific diving play to keep the puck in by Torey Krug, Bruins get numerous high-quality chances, but the period ends before a goal goes in. B’s will have 48 seconds on the power-play to start the third.

Columbus out-shot the Bruins 10-to-6 in that middle frame and Boston has allowed them to get their legs in this game. Boston needs a goal early in the final regulation period to give them the momentum back in this Game One contest. It should be an entertaining upcoming twenty minutes of action.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 CBJ: 14

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period:

Unable to strike on the short power-play to begin the period, the Bruins get a full one 1:20 into the third on a holding minor against Boone Jenner. Just seconds beforehand, Jenner took a shot on the rush that hit Rask’s glove and then the post but stayed out. Marchand again gets the best chance on the power-play, a deflection on a slap pass from Pastrnak that just goes wide. Blue Jackets block a few hard shots including one off of Zach Werenski’s hand. He has been the top minute-eating defenceman for Columbus and losing him would hurt. Boston, though, can’t score again on the man-advantage.

In a game that felt like a regular season game at times results in a Seth Jones point shot that gets deflected by former-Bruin Riley Nash and Brandon Dubinsky, tying the game at one. Only thirteen seconds after that, Artemi Panarin takes a hard slapshot towards Rask and it hits Pierre-Luc Dubois’ leg, beating Rask. All of a sudden, the Blue Jackets have a 2-1 lead in the third.

Looking for a response, Joakim Nordstrom takes a spinning shot and somehow Sean Kuraly gets his stick on a loose puck but his attempt gets stopped by with a desperation save by Bobrovsky. Boston’s fourth line continues to have the best chances for the team and that usually does not win you consistent playoff games.

A slower period than expected, Marcus Johansson comes down the right-wing side with head up all the way and he makes a slick backhand pass to Charlie Coyle and his bomb of a one-timer goes in and out so fast that it almost seemed like a post shot, but Coyle and the official behind the net saw that it went in short-side and the Boston Bruins have tied this game with just under five minutes in regulation.

In the final minutes, Charlie McAvoy gets absolutely levelled behind Tuukka Rask by Josh Anderson. McAvoy returned the favour to Boone Jenner later in the shift as Jenner tried to cross the Bruins blueline. High intensity in the concluding moments with some hard pushes by Boston but we head to overtime for the first time in the playoffs for the Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 33 CBJ: 21

Score: 2-2 – Goals: Dubinsky (1) Assists: Nash (1), Jones (3); Dubois (2) Assists: Panarin (4), Jones (4); Coyle (4) Assists: Johansson (1), Krug (4)

Overtime:

In the first few minutes of the overtime session, it is apparent that David Krejci is not on the bench nor the ice for the Bruins. Talks are that Krejci took a hard hit at the end of the third period, but no clear play of injury is present.

Leave it up to the third line. Marcus Johansson tosses the puck high up for Danton Heinen who just barely gets into the zone onside. Zach Werenski pauses to protest for a possible offside, which allows Charlie Coyle to get around him. In the meantime, Johansson feeds a perfect pass to Coyle for a deflection goal. Bruins win Game One, 3-2 in overtime.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 37 CBJ: 22

Final Score: 3-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS F Charlie Coyle – 2 Goals, OT Winner, 2 Shots, 3 Hits,

2nd Star: CBJ G Sergei Bobrovsky – 34 Saves, .919 SV%

3rd Star: BOS F Marcus Johansson – 2 Assists, 2 Shots, 16:20 TOI

Game Two is currently scheduled for 8:00pm EST on Saturday, April 27th in Boston, Massachusetts.